Teen admits Antonio Hall arson

A 14-year-old boy has admitted the arson of the derelict historic building Antonio Hall in Riccarton Road.

The teenager appeared in the Youth Court today and was remanded on supported bail to September 17, for a family group conference to be held on how the case should be handled.

The conference is expected to present an agreed plan to the next Youth Court appearance.

In Youth Court terms, the boy has “not denied” the charge of arson of the old building which had been neglected since it suffered structural damage in the Christchurch earthquakes.

The boy had been arrested soon after the fire which began about 5.20pm on Friday July 12, when about 50 firefighters fought the blaze.

He was granted bail when he appeared in the Youth Court the following Monday, but he absconded during the remand and Judge Jane McMeeken issued a warrant for his arrest when he failed to attend a court date last week.

She urged him to contact his youth advocate Siobhan McNulty to arrange another court date, warning that he would be found in a small place like Christchurch.

He was not in custody for his appearance at Youth Court today, when Judge McMeeken granted him supported bail with conditions that will allow him to continue with education.

She suppressed all the submissions made to the court, including most of the conditions of his bail.

Firefighters took about three hours to fight the blaze and save as much of the hall as they could, but about 30 percent of the building was lost. Damage was extensive, especially to the top floor and the roof. They managed to save the hall’s chapel and the east and west wings.

The hall, which had 279 rooms, had been used as a Catholic seminary for three decades and it was later used as a boarding house for students and the underprivileged. It is understood there were long term plans to convert it into a hotel.